A security officer stands guard outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka. File photo/ Reuters
Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church will televise a private on Sunday mass after cancelling regular services over fears of a repeat of Easter suicide bombings that killed 257 people, a spokesman said.
Father Edmund Tillakaratne said public masses were suspended for a second week, but a service conducted by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith will be broadcast on national television.
“It will be like last Sunday when we had a service at Archbishop’s chapel and telecast it live,” Tillakaratne said.
Ranjith, who is also archbishop of Colombo, said on Thursday that a “reliable foreign source” had alerted him to possible attacks this weekend, leading him to cancel on Sunday services for the second week.
“The information we have from a reliable foreign source is that attackers are planning to hit a very famous church and a Catholic institution,” the Cardinal said in a statement.
Official sources said the Thewatte National Basilica, just outside Colombo, was the suspected target, and the military deployed hundreds of troops to search the area.
“There were no explosives found, but we have stepped up security in the neighbourhood,” a police official said.
The government is going ahead with plans to reopen public schools on Monday, but the Church said Catholic schools will remain shut “until further notice.”
Sri Lankan authorities had advance warnings from Indian intelligence of the impending Easter attacks but police and security forces failed to act, leading to Sri Lanka’s worst single suicide attack against civilians.
There were at least 42 foreigners among the 257 killed while some 480 were also wounded in the attacks targeting three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21.
Armed guards have been stationed outside hotels, churches, Buddhist temples and mosques across the country since the attacks.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Friday that some of the conspirators may still be at large.
“Most of those responsible for the Easter attacks have been arrested. Some have been killed,” Wickremesinghe said during a tour of island’s east, where a Christian church was hit.
“We are trying to see if there are any more secret IS cells in the country,” he said. “We will ensure that IS terrorism will be eradicated from our land.”
Sri Lanka bolstered security on Friday with fears of attacks against several bridges and flyovers in Colombo as well as police stations.
He hoped normality would return by Monday when public schools reopen after an extended Easter vacation. About 50 children were among those killed.
The attacks were blamed on the local National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) whose leader was among the suicide bombers. The group had pledged an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State group.
"Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."
'Terrorists are those who betray worshippers in their places of worship, plant fear in their hearts and try to ignite religious conflicts in societies'
Hospital sources also said Japanese citizens were among those injured by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.
In a tumultuous year marked by economic and social upheavals worldwide as nations battled the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and compounded by tragic disasters such as the Beirut port blasts and several natural calamities including devastating floods in Sudan
The decisions we make Monday will shape the world you will live in tomorrow, said Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE), while addressing the Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) Virtual Forum during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021.
Improving technology and digitalisation have sure contributed to the coping of countries and governments with the one-year-old Novel Coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the most compelling realisation is that health is the key to happiness, dependent on one’s attitude and perspective in life; and for which each and every individual must be responsible for.